Sensible casino deal

With relative ease, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's administration has reached an agreement with the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes that will give them more control over public safety and regulation at their southeastern Connecticut casinos and put more state police and regulators out on the road.

That's a win for the state and a win for the tribes.

Certified police hired by the tribes will replace some of the senior state troopers now assigned to the casinos. This will allow troopers to return to understaffed off-reservation duties. Many of the tribal police already employed are retired state or municipal officers.

It is in the best interest of the Mashantuckets and Mohegans to make public safety at their resort casinos a priority, and they will continue to do that, they said, but more economically with tribal police. Tribal officials say they plan to use the savings to hire more officers and to better market the casinos.

The deal will also free up additional liquor control agents and auditors to meet non-tribal responsibilities.

A spokeswoman for the governor said the agreement reflects a commitment on the part of the state to shift some responsibilities to the tribes. The tribes and state officials are still working out the final details.

The combined reported savings for the Mashantucket Pequots and Mohegans is $4.5 million - a pittance of the $1.36 billion they won on just their slot machines last year. But it is significant because it shows a willingness on the part of the Malloy administration to address what had long been a niggling issue for the tribes.

The compact, or state's operating agreement with the tribes, allows the state to have troopers on the reservation. But that presence has become increasingly more expensive, this year costing the Mashantucket Pequots $7.3 million and the Mohegans $6.8 million.

Prior governors had rebuked tribal efforts to re-examine the state's role at the casinos. For example, the state assigns agents to supervise coin counts to ensure it gets its share of the slot revenues, but with enhanced technology, it's an audit function now, not a manual count of cash like in the old days. Not as many agents are required.

The casinos, hit like everyone else by the lackluster economy, are looking for efficiencies and appealed to Gov. Malloy to help them. His administration listened, and rightly so realized it could buy good will and get more troopers and liquor control agents where they are better needed.

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Pat Richardson, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, retired Day editor Lisa McGinley, Managing Editor Tim Cotter and Staff Writer Julia Bergman. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.


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